Friday, February 28, 2014

This In-Between Month, Day 12: The Fear of God

Today River and I shot a little pool, talked a lot about music and I realized again, looking at this young man who I helped make, that every second with him is such a gift of grace, every minute a miracle of mercy. As I dropped him off to spend the evening with his friends I was already missing him before I drove away. He is so bright, our conversations cover so many topics where I am way out of my depth. His questions make me search the depth of my experiences and hold fast to the promise that God gives us the words to speak when we need them. We talk about the church's role (if any) in politics. We often talk about Christianity in the modern age, at the crossroads of culture, and how the language we choose to use in communicating the gospel is crucial. One phrase that came up was "the fear of God". 

A web search for "fear of God" images and these were the first two that came up after a plethora of ads for some clothing company out of LA that sells 1000 dollar oversized understated neo-skinhead fashion...

That phrase, "the fear of God", seems to perplex so many (and it has always made me a little uneasy too). It has been used at times to bludgeon people into belief, others have dismissed it as an archaic concept, the personality of an Old Testament God who was replaced by a kinder, gentler, New Testament one, and by others still to reject Christianity altogether. We are told to love God for he is a gentle father, and then to fear God because He is a mighty warrior. And from the outside, and even the inside I suppose, this can make Him seem a bit schizophrenic .

As a Christian well immersed in “church” (and having at one point learned Christianese fluently) and, subsequently, living in a post-modern age where words have been emasculated, (and being no theologian), my response to the “fear of God” has always been a bit convoluted. I was taught, as a child, that this “fear” meant awe and wonder. And I still believe that to be one, large, dynamic part of it. But I think our system of awe and wonder may not big big enough for God. If a “2” is a litter of puppies being born then a “9” is River being born. The headroom for God is very limited. I say God is love. And then I say I love chocolate. The sliding scale starts in the finite but goes into the infinite. Words fail us and yet words are most of we have to communicate these concepts.

When I read the scriptures, it seems to me that fear is expected to be a huge part of worship and the relationship we are supposed to have with God. We're told the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. That fear is for our protection, for our blessing, for our understanding, for all things in the universe to remain in order. It is this fear that is supposed to compel us to cherish our neighbor, to feed the poor, to be kind to the stranger. Hmmmm.... At the end of his days, Solomon, whom scripture calls the wisest man, summed it up to this. “Fear God and keep His commandments.” So than what is this fear? Again with the clumsiness of human terms, let me try and explain what I think it means. 

To me it is the acceptance of the sovereignty and perfection of a loving omnipotent God. It is the understanding that:

He answers to no man, but yet stoops so low to hear the softest prayer of the weakest saint. 

He can take or give without permission, be that life or riches or power. He owes no one a single thing and yet His generosity knows no bounds. He gave His son up to the dogs of hell for them to devour Jesus's flesh just for us, so that we might have eternal life. And then He makes us joint heirs with Christ of all of heaven's riches. 

He is beyond reproach, beyond any misgiving. He cannot lie. He cannot err. He cannot cease because He always was. And yet He calls us friends, we who are a ragtag bunch of rebels, liars, mistake makers, whose lives are a breath, a vapor, a flower fading.

He is all powerful and could at any moment, without our permission, end all life by grinding the big blue-green ball of earth to sub-atomic grit in His hands. But yet in His unfathomable tenderness He holds us gently, safely in His hands and not only does he not crush us, he keeps us from the crushing weight of all else. 

I believe, if His majesty were revealed, in total, to any created being, they would explode, or implode, (or worse) but that what stays His hand from exacting justice on us all is His infinitely merciful heart, is His promise to love those He has called children. Oh how He loves us! Infinitely more than we love Him. 

So then the act of fearing God to me, in the simplest definition, is the total acceptance of His complete control and incomprehensible greatness and of our total depravity and infinite smallness all wonderfully wrapped in the revelation that we were created for Him to love and that His purpose, His eternal plan, is fulfilled when He exchanges His wrath for us as sinners with His love for us as children. Then the invisible realms see the very nature of God and I suspect, they tremble too. 

Argh, that felt long-winded and not perfectly clear. I hope that it helps, and there are also some really good thoughts here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

This In-Between Month, Day 11: Happy Birthday Mr. Steinbeck

Today Mr. John Steinbeck would have been 112. I have often pondered following the same route he took across America with his giant poodle Charley. Load up a little camper trailer, give it some literary name, and visit point by point every place Mr. Steinbeck did in his delightful little book Travels With Charley in Search of America. To chronicle how America has changed, what she has become in the 50 years since the book was published. But of course my idea lacks all originality, having been done by countless literary enthusiasts and travel hounds for decades. In fact one such fellow, a Mr. Bill Steigerwald followed the supposed route and found some of the travelogue to be in the kindest words, littered with artistic license. You can read his gentle de-bunking here.

But it's the thing. The doing and the writing about it. Steinbeck describes it this way in the book: "...a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any here..." And in me I certainly find that same desire, and mirrored in my soul, perhaps even more intensely, the desire to write about it. And not just America, but every strange sun-soaked Island, every frozen gunpowder grey country. 

How could you not want to sleep out in the wild desert when Steinbeck describes it this way? "At night in this waterless air the stars come down just out of reach of your fingers..." and "...there are mysteries in the desert, stories told and retold of secret places in the desert mountains..." But then to write the stories of touched stars and of the mysteries of those mountains. Wow. 

In the Atlantic 1962 review of Travels With Charley they wrote: "This is a book to be read slowly for its savor, and one which, like Thoreau, will be quoted and measured by our own experience."

Isn't that just it, the reason writer's write, maybe one of the reasons Jesus spoke in parables, that in communicating stories we measure our own experience against others. And in that we find the big truths, the universal ones. And at the same time take the big things, the universal images and ideals and make them all our own. When someone reads us, when they feel less alone, when some turn of phrase makes their breath stick in their lungs or some titanic weight of sorrow shipwreck and sink deep inside their chest. That's the payoff, it is for me. To communicate truth in such a way that somewhere someone wants to meet my tender Savior, to communicate beauty in such a way that someone somewhere places their hand on their chest to still their beating heart, and falls a little more in love. Ahhh to be that writer. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

This In-Between Month, Day 10: Lion Tamer

Outside it is cold and gray and wet and inside it is only slightly less so. Haiti's warmth is a far away and I am missing her sunshine. (And her children, and her rice and beans, and her sea, oh and her starlight.) But there is coffee! And internet and the familiar faces of strangers. In my mind I make up tall tales about them. File them away for some story. The slumped red head there, with the oversized flannel filling out a job application. I imagine she is having a moral crisis, and finally she lies, claims she was a lion tamer, from the summer of 06 through the fall of 07. How she thinks this will sway the managers at Starbucks to give a job nod in her favor, I do not know. But it makes perfect sense to her. That's the best part.Then there is Dave, stranger than fiction. He is a volume of books, all of them start with what he's had or having for his last or next meal. If he takes his pills he is ok. If he takes too many he is far away. And if maybe, one pill is a little too small, well the real Dave bleeds through and he will show you his painted webbed toes and tell you of his current if not somewhat morbid fascination with squirrels.

But how I see them, real or imagined, matters not. George MacDonald said:

"I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking." 

The most important thoughts I will ever have of me or you will have of you or they will ever have of they are God's thoughts. He does not make up more believable or less boring personalities for us. He is not able to be deluded by His own romanticism. He is not persuaded by jealousy or bitterness. He doesn't allow His opinion of us to be leveraged by our imperfections or our needs. He speaks only truth, at all times, and what He says is binding, for all eternity's days. 

Mind you all of the thoughts God has for us existed before time began. They are His heart and mind for us. But with our closed ears and hearts and minds we cannot, could not ever hear Him. The new life we are gifted in Jesus means opened ears and enlightened minds and a new heart too! Then we can begin to not just hear what God says about us, but because we have already begun experiencing His transformative power, we can trust that He will finish the job. And we begin to believe, when on our lowest days He doesn't run away, that He must actually see something wonderful in us.

We are new creatures in Christ. Which means we get a re-do! That chance to start over (and over, and over). "So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away--look, what is new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

We are children of God, heirs of heaven, with full divine rights. "But to all who have received him--those who believe in his name--he has given the right to become God's children." (John 1:12) "And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)--if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him." (Romans 8:17).

We are friends of Jesus. "But I call you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father" (John 15:15). And He proved it! Scripture says no greater love has a man than this than that he lay down his life for his friends. And Jesus did just that. Died in our place. I know that's elementary, sunday school 101...but it should shock us everyday.

Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Wow. Consider that, the intimacy that entails, that God would want to make himself at home in us. Geez. "Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you." (1 Corinthians 6:19)?

This one sounds sacrosanct and too high for me, that we are the righteousness of God in Christ. But what I understand it to mean is simply this. Christ took the blame for everything we ever did, are doing, and will do and gave us instead His perpetual and immutable innocence to all those crimes. Talk about diplomatic immunity! The perks of being related (by blood) to a King. "God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21).

We are accepted. "Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God's glory." (Romans 15:7). We are not alone, nor are we isolated or ostracized by our differences. We are part of Him now, along with all the others. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female--for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). We are free! "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the chains of bondage." (Galatians 5:1). We are chosen, holy, and blameless before God. "For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love." (Ephesians 1:4).

This is who we are?? Really?? How? Why?? Because God is love and He loves us!

But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you are saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5) "Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience … (Colossians 3:12). We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you … (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

Now when you look in the mirror you may want to remind yourselves of these things. Don't use your sassy voice, and I promise not to use mine. This new us in Christ is a gift, we didn't earn it and therefore shouldn't flaunt it. For example. If you get pulled over by a cop you might not want to say something along the lines of, "My dad is God so send the ticket to Him, He can take it out of my heavenly inheritance." And please don't use your place of preeminence with Christ to cause you to step to the front of the Starbucks line in front of the rest of us. I may kill you. 

And though knowing how God sees us will help navigate the toughest days at work, and the lowest lows of loneliness, the most important reason for us to see ourselves as He sees us, is so that we will have the confidence to go to Him. "...In whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ's faithfulness." (Ephesians 3:12).

So for all the Daves and all the red-headed lion are unconditionally loved, and you are magnificently from the mind of God.

This In-Between Month, Days 8 and 9: The Locust Effect

Just over a week back and all other thoughts these last two days have been unable to escape the terminal gravity of this book. Everything I say or feel is caught in this convergent orbit around it, toward it. 

In the following quote Gary Haugen sums up the title and the premise of his new book The Locust Effect. “Without the world noticing, the locusts of common, criminal violence are right now ravaging the lives and dreams of billions of our poorest neighbors.” It is rare, that a statement like this, one so enormous, so far reaching in its implications, so shocking in its claim can also be undeniably true. As with the Holocaust or the purgings of Stalin or Mao's great leap forward that saw 45 million killed in 4 years, humanity wonders aloud how this could be happening under our noses, "without the world noticing". They ask where the good people are? The collective ego assumes we have evolved past this sort of mass evil. Mr. Haugen goes on to indict us all.

“One would hope that if the world woke up to such a reality, it would swiftly acknowledge and respond to the disaster—but tragically, the world has neither woken up to the reality nor responded in a way that offers meaningful hope for the poor. It has mostly said and done nothing. And as we shall see, the failure to respond to such a basic need—to prioritize criminal justice systems that can protect poor people from common violence—has had a devastating impact on two great struggles that made heroic progress in the last century but have stalled out for the poorest in the twenty-first century: namely, the struggle to end severe poverty and the fight to secure the most basic human rights.”

In the absence of enforced law the strong take from the weak whenever they desire. Land, sex, physical labor; all the poor have, coerced or stolen or worse from them all across the developing world. The problem is deeply complex, rooted in and mired by years of bad governance and inattention by the world community. And though it speaks to the wickedness men are capable of it also reveals how this same wickedness can be kept in relative check where there is rule of law. Please read this book. It will change how you understand poverty, how you view the world. (I am posting this in a longer form on the COH blog too with alot of statistics.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

This In-Between Month, Days 4-7

Day 4:

We walked down Magazine St. again today. River wanted to go to the used musical instrument store. As we walk he reads the street signs. "Terpsichore Street, the muse of dance" he says. "Calliope, the muse of epics. But if you want to write an epic epic you would have to invoke on all the muses" he instructs in a mock professorial tone. My mind is on overload. I listen a lot and talk very little. At one point River asks me what I am thinking but as I start to tell him, that jellyfish are the chandeliers of the sea, we arrive at the music store and he is quickly lost in his private world of wonder.

We walk back toward downtown and under the overpass are homeless men and women. Some share a drink, others sleep on the cold concrete. I am thinking of what EJ told me, of a woman she met, who was homeless and afraid. Who every night would sleep up in tree branches to keep herself from being found and raped. My eyes watered, my legs got heavy. I will never know what it means to be female, never know the constant fear that plagues the poor and the marginalized women of the world.  

Day 5:

Still reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Makes me want to capture every creature of thought, every monster of memory and put it all in a little circus of freaks called a book. What a crazy and practical writer Lamott is. In the best ways. She says sometimes it helps to write to one reader. She recounts how she wrote an entire book for her father as he was dying of cancer and another for her friend who was dying too. I find I write best this way, not my best writing per se but that I feel most connected to what I write. That I stay on task when normally my mind is prone to amble off, that I keep a sense of expectancy that otherwise easily wanes. 

Day 6:

We take the train to Mississippi. I am feeling anxious at time away from River. But it will be good to see my family. Waiting for me are two books I have been excited to read. Carl Wilkens I'm Not Leaving and Gary Haugen's The Locust Effect. I started reading I'm Not Leaving immediately and couldn't put it down. I have read much about the Rwandan genocide but this account of the one American who stayed is incredible. You can order it here.

Day 7:

To say I never left the pages of a book this sometimes sunny and sometimes slate gray Sunday would be almost true. The Locust Effect is devastating. It is the most focused and accurate view of poverty I have ever read. It reveals in undeniable fact, that to end poverty we must end violence against the poor. The stories of the poor denied, not just basic justice, but any justice are soul crushing. The stories of the abuse that that poor receive from the same institutions charged with protecting them is paralyzing. I recommend this book to everyone. It is that important, so dead on in it's analysis of the true state of justice around the developing world and its direct impact on keeping the poor in poverty. I am begging you, please, read it.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

This In-Between Month, Day 3: The World-Wide Whisper

River and I walked around the French quarter today. He entertained me, effortlessly shifting between Monty Python and C.S. Lewis, H.P. Lovecraft and Dr. Who. Riffing about pop culture and the nature of evil. All in a cast of voices from the somber to the insane. He is older, looks older, changed in subtle ways. I want to lament what I have missed but instead try to only celebrate the man he is becoming. 

Later as the shadows of the afternoon gave contrast to the neon signs River sang "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" then "Norwegian Wood". And somehow "Hotel California became "American Pie" which then was Tennyson.

"For I dipped into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;
Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rained a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;
Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging through the

My son's deepening voice and passion for song lyrics and all things guitar was a soundtrack to my thoughts. I tried to be right there with him, and most of me was, but the images of Kiev on fire...well it looks like hell's flames have come to earth.

Pictures from the Guardian UK.

It seems there is no "world-wide whisper" but instead a scream. All creation groans for all things to be made new but the daughters of Eve, the sons of Adam wail. The forgotten tragedies Central African Republic where religions devour each other. Boots on the throats of their brothers.

The caption above read "Christian's winning". Now how is that even possible? How can you reconcile laying down your life for your brother with a boot on his throat. What part of hacking him to death with a machete communicates the love of Jesus. None.

Syria with 9 million refugees. With a bloody conflict dismissed by the west as "someone else's civil war" as "baddie vs. baddie". But when civilians are targeted, when children are blown to bits because father's speak is all of our problem. Below families flee across deserts and borders into the makeshift camps. Leaving behind death for living misery. 


I'ts all so much to feel. Too much to understand how one of us can or should respond. I am at a loss, feeling so far from the reality of it all. Today all I can do is pray. Pray for the children's lives destroyed by these tragedies. I just want to do something. But what?? 

I gotta go, River is ready to ramble on. I have a friend Nat in the Central African Republic, he and his wife work with Tearfund (who are also working in Syria). If you can, help them try and protect the innocent there. Mesi Anpil.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

This In-Between Month, Day 2: Magazine Street, New Orleans

As I walked down Magazine Street today this thought turned over and over in me.

"Humility is not thinking less of your self but thinking of your self less." 

C.S. Lewis.

The last two weeks there has been a lonely lilted melody playing in the back rooms of my mind. Faint as a whisper, and real thin, like an echo of an echo. This week past someone turned the volume up and I found myself humming along, but still no words, no recollection of the tune. Until today, sitting in a little coffee dive on Magazine St., distracted making little mosaics of all the photos I'd taken, a few words twisted by memory and then a sudden jolt of recognition and a whole phrase coming back to me.

"Your fire burns me like a favorite song
A song I should have know all along
I feel you move like smoke in my eyes
And that is why..." 

Which is beautiful, and made me long for someone but wasn't the spiritual epiphany I had hoped for (yet) but it did lead me to revisit this album:

Which led me somewhat amused to the song "Jesus in New Orleans" where I read these  lyrics:

"But when I least expect it
Here and there I see my savior’s face
He’s still my favorite loser
Falling for the entire human race"

Which brought me back to selflessness. Jesus, in sweat became blood dripping agony, prayed this prayer to His Father. "Not my will but Yours be done." That is where it starts, thinking of our selves less and Him all the more. This is the first step on the path of selflessness. Surrender of our will to His and then we can really begin to live for others. What this will look like may be different for all of us, but it will have the same results, magnifying God in the eyes of His creation, and elevating those created in His image to intimacy with Him. 

50 cent paper backs at a thrift store. My first purchase in these here United States. 

I am reading Anne Lamott's " Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life". (Which I love and want to stop all else and finish, thanks Em.) And one of the things she tells young writers and old writers (and dead writers and those not born), is to write. Write everyday, write short things. Silly little throw away things. Just write, write, write. Get the fuel to the engine of the thing. Prime it, choke it, flood it sometimes, but keep trying to crank that engine. It is the same, in some ways, this business of being selfless. Just do it. Listen longer to a strangers rambling story. Listen with a wide heart and kind or concerned eyes. Tip better. Smile more. Tell people what you like about them, really mean it. Give your spare cash, and maybe a little that's not so spare to those that need it more. Make your days more about others, which doesn't mean you are forgotten. NO! God will take care of you! Seek first the kingdom and whatever you need for life and Godliness will be yours! Seek the "upside down kingdom" as it's been called, the one where the King came to be a servant and traded royal chariots for donkeys. The Kingdom where it's not about me.

Please excuse me, for coffee and Miss Lamott await. And in an hour I will see my son! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This In-Between Month, Day 1

I have always been fascinated by the in-betweens. Dawn and dusk and their strange grays, horizons, borders and shorelines- that no-man's land. There is a tension in the in-betweens, a solitary confinement too. And what is art without those visceral forces, that isolation?

Yesterday morning, after the chaos of an airport run, the smells of burning trash and dirty diesel exhaust, and all the craziness of a normal Haitian Monday, I sat alone in the terminal at Port-au-Prince's Toussaint Louverture International Airport. I scrolled through photos of the day before, an impromptu beach outing. These two precious baby sisters, reclining in a wheel barrow. The Haiti that I was leaving behind for a month. 

It is hard to separate the feelings I get, the leaving a country I love and the going to a country where my son is. These in-betweens, they get more and more intense, more and more convoluted with each border passing. I feel like part of me stays, sojourns in that no-man's land, a little lost, never settling. My mind was on these thoughts and always the stark contrast of the poverty I was leaving, the luxury I would soon be in. I stared at my little cup of espresso, the last taste of Haiti for a month.

Later, as I sat waiting for my flight to New Orleans. A gentlemen, an entomologist by profession, sat across from me tearing pages from a magazine. Finally, bettered by my curiosity, I asked him what he was doing. He said simply, "It's too heavy." He was ripping out all the adds, another magazine's worth, and setting them on the seat beside him, making the very large magazine less unwieldy for his flight to South America. I jokingly asked him if he had paid for the magazine. He said, "yes, dearly." I laughed and remarked how the publishers were double dipping grossly, selling so many ads, and still taking their pound of flesh from their readership. He chuckled. I wondered aloud maybe most people buy it for the ads. Maybe they want to be told what to wear, and what to watch, and what to smell like. With the tone of a man who prefers the studies of bugs and not people he humored me, "Maybe." He continued to make his magazine lighter, the stack beside him grew to the height of another normal magazine, and I sat quietly. Finally I said, "Maybe people should do that with their lives? Rip out all the ads, all the pinned pages, all the critical analysis of the consumer at large. Maybe all those voices telling them who to be should be silenced as such." He looked at me, as if I were a rare species of cockroach, and as he stood he said. "You're way too young to be talking that way." And then he handed me the pile of pages and walked away. 

I found a sunny spot, near the sky train, and spread the pages on the floor. A drunk British tourist, worried about my sanity, said, "Hey Jesus, don't let them tell you how to be, don't let them get to you." Indeed. To which his sober country mate said, "Leave him alone, it's probably just art or something that he's doing." Only when he said "art", it was like a curse word. I made the little mosaic below in honor of those concerned Londoners while bored and waiting to board.

The flight to New Orleans was easy and uneventful. Sleep tugged at me but the flying mostly west at that hour always means flying into the sunset. The strangest of in-betweens, you literally watch the sun setting in slow motion, and oh the oranges, the yellows, the reds glowing the clouds. And then on descent, between the layers of clouds, like the sun exploded and irradiated everything with color. By the time I got to the hotel in New Orleans I was too tired to write, too tired to make sense of what it all meant if anything. I took a miraculous hot shower, I laid down in a bed too soft, too fresh for words. I thought of Haiti, my little wood shack by the sea. I thought for a few moments I'd never sleep here, not without the rolling waves...but then I was gone. Into the in-between of dreams.

The word for 2013 was "selfie". The most watched youtube video, with over 600 million views in the 2013 calender year is a song called "Gentleman" which depicts a man being anything but that, instead it is a crude celebration of the heights of selfishness even if it's meant to be somewhat ironic. (Please, spare yourself the agony.) Is this the way we see ourselves, and others? The way we want to be seen? I am no pile of ads and neither are you I suspect. A photo taken of ourselves is mostly harmless, and a crappy song doesn't necessarily become ones life governing philosophy. But who are we to be? 

Tomorrow I see my son for the first time in three months. I am always painfully aware that I am to set an example for him. And so the word that's been in my spirit, the one the ads can't sell you, the way they won't tell you to be, the one that flies in the face of all culture, the one that I am really bad at, is "selfless".

For me I want that word to mark my new year. To be the legacy for my son. And I find it impossible. And only with Jesus, only with His example and the sacrifice and power of the cross can I start to even begin to be selfless, which by any other name would be "Christ-likeness". Even as I type that word I know what it means and my soul shudders a bit and shrinks back from it. But I must. When I look at the state of my heart, my mind. When I take stock of my desires. When I look at the great needs in this weary world... Well it's time for change. 

So will you join with me and swear off selfies for a year? Haha. Just kidding. (But that is a thought..) Let us make 2014 a year where we are selfless. Where we change our spending habits, our consumption levels. (And besides, it's "too heavy" to carry all that weight around.) Use less and purchase slave-free. Give more to those doing the urgent things. May the way people describe us become the word selfless. Hard as it will be, with Christ all things are possible.

Gonna try and journal this in-between month. Love it if you stop by once and a while. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The First Taste Of Rain

Life is too short for all the lessons. Some days I remember that, some days I pay attention. I listen harder, look closer, touch more. 

The lessons are all around me. They are in every atom, and every conglomeration of atoms, and all the invisible business of an atomic nature.

There are the universal lessons, the ones that scripture assumes we all see, the glory of the Creator in the created. 

I saw the Painter in His brush strokes today. Seems there are always so many lessons at the sea.

I saw the shells. Like flowers from the hand of the sea for her mistress the shore. I saw an upturned shell, sun bleached and hemmed in by sand, I imagined its first taste of rain. I saw in every single one the Earth's Engineer, His math in their endless patterns. In every spiral and radial sequence

I see the boats, like the split bellies of a great fish. Wooden rib cage, wooden skin. Ancient men learned their lessons and then conquered the surface of the sea. What will I learn today?

A child searched for sea glass so I helped him. He liked the blue best, held his breath every time I poured my finds into his tiny hand. "Blue!" He squealed.

The sea takes the careless trash of humanity and gives us back a humble gem. Smooths the jagged edges. (This is that lesson.) I am that glass, desperate (and ever resistant) to be tumbled and water worn around all my roughness, to be smoothed on my sharpest spots, by God's boundless ocean of Grace.